Women's Suffrage Resource Guide: Manuscript Collections

Access to primary source materials from the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, American History resources, and selected Women's Suffrage websites.

Manuscript Collections from the Kenneth Spencer Research Library

While the majority of Spencer’s holdings are printed materials, the library also houses some manuscript collections related to the campaign for women’s suffrage, particularly in Kansas. Manuscript – or archival – collections generally contain unpublished materials such as letters, diaries, drafts of literary works, financial records, meeting minutes, reports, scrapbooks, memorabilia, photographs, and audiovisual materials. The unpublished materials in archival collections are usually one-of-a-kind items that exist only in the collection where a researcher finds them. Below are manuscript collections that include the most clear and insightful information about the women’s suffrage movement.

  • Personal Papers of Kate I. Hansen (Call Number: PP 19)

Biography: Kansas native and KU graduate Kate I. Hansen (1879-1969) organized a conservatory course in music at Miyagi College in Sendai, Japan. Hansen served as dean of that department until her retirement.

Suffrage materials include: Published booklets and articles as well as two papers – “The Advantages of Being an Old Maid” and “Advantages of a Career Woman” – written by Hansen in the early 1900s (Box 1, Folder 14).

  • Personal Papers of Kate Stephens (Call Number: PP 43)

Biography: Stephens (1853-1938) taught Greek Languages and Literature at the University of Kansas from 1878 until 1885.

Suffrage materials include: Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings by and about Stephens that demonstrate and chart her public involvement in women’s rights activism and the suffrage movement. Correspondence in the collection includes seven letters from Susan B. Anthony to Kate Stephens, 1884-1887 (Boxes 1-3).

  • Personal Papers of Mary E. R. Strong (Call Number: PP 226)

Biography: Strong (1870-1953) was involved in many local groups and campaigned throughout her life for women’s suffrage, especially in her home state of Kansas. She was also the wife of KU Chancellor Frank Strong.

Suffrage materials include: Materials related to a Kansas Equal Suffrage Association meeting held in Leavenworth in 1912, specifically a meeting program, a handwritten copy of the speech given by Strong, and a letter describing the positive effect of Strong’s speech. Photographs of Mrs. Strong can be found in Chancellor Strong’s records (RG 2/8).

  • Personal Papers of Rose Ruth Morgan and Family (Call Number: PP 567)

Biography: A KU alumna Morgan (1873-1951), was appointed as an instructor of rhetoric at KU in 1910. Promoted to Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, Morgan taught in the English department at KU until her retirement in 1944.

Suffrage materials include: Four letters that discuss politics, elections, and the women’s suffrage movement – particularly in Kansas (Boxes 4, 6, 9, and 10).

  • Ruth Garver Gagliardo Papers (Call Number: RH MS 275)

Biography: A graduate of KU and a long-time resident of Topeka, Kansas, Gagliardo (1895-1980) launched a career around 1942 that rapidly brought her to national attention as an authority on children's literature.

Suffrage materials include: Correspondence with and documents related to Alberta Corbin, a prominent Kansas suffragist and KU alumna who worked at the university for over thirty-five years in various roles. (Box 2).

  • League of Women Voters of Kansas Records (Call Number: RH MS 279)

History: The Kansas League of Women Voters (KLWV) was formed by members of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association in Wichita and held its first meeting on June 10-11, 1919.

Suffrage materials include: Administrative records, financial records, records related to programs and projects conducted by the Kansas League of Women Voters, and externally-facing communications of the league. Materials in the collection date from 1920 to 2013, with the bulk from the 1970s through the 1990s.

  • Anthony and Havens Family Papers (Call Number: RH MS 555)

History: Colonel Daniel Read Anthony (1824-1904) was a member of the first colony sent to Kansas Territory by the New England Emigrant Aid Society of Massachusetts in 1854. He became a leading businessman and public official in the early history of Leavenworth. Anthony’s siblings included national women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

Suffrage materials include: Miscellaneous documents and items related to Susan B. Anthony.

  • Douglas County, Kan. Poll-book of the Election (Call Number: RH MS P357)

Suffrage materials include: Names of electors in the six wards of Lawrence for the election held on April 5, 1887. This was the first Kansas election in which women could vote. Also lists number of votes each candidate received. Photocopy of records located at the Kansas State Historical Society.

  • Letter from Calista E. Larned to Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, 1885 (Call Number: RH MS P832)
    Biography: Larned and her husband lived on a ranch in Kingman County, Kansas. She was actively involved in education, women's       rights, and the Universalist Church. Harbert (1845-1925) was a leader in the women's suffrage movement. She served three terms as   president of the Illinois Woman's Suffrage Association and worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

      Suffrage materials include: This four-page letter, in which Larned writes of their mutual cause (women’s suffrage) and her hope to   contribute to Harbert's new pro-suffrage journal (The New Era).

Researchers can search Spencer’s finding aids to learn more about manuscript collections at the library. A finding aid is a document created by archivists to aid researchers in navigating a manuscript collection and finding information about subjects, people, places, and events documented within it. The level of detail varies between finding aids. However, in general each one describes the creation, content, context, and organization of materials in a specific archival collection. Reading a finding aid can help researchers efficiently determine whether a particular archival collection might be relevant to their information needs and to discover boxes or folders of interest within that collection.
Just like searching the online catalog for KU Libraries, different search terms and phrases will help focus the results.